Category Index
Books About Big Art
  • A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932
    A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932
    by John Richardson
  • Sarah Lucas: A Catalog RaisonnĂ©
    Sarah Lucas: A Catalog Raisonné
    by Yilmaz Dziewior, Sarah Lucas
  • Grayson Perry
    Grayson Perry
    by Jacky Klein
  • Hendrik Kerstens (English and Dutch Edition)
    Hendrik Kerstens (English and Dutch Edition)
    by Pim Milo, Kathy Ryan
  • David Hockney: A Bigger Picture
    David Hockney: A Bigger Picture
    by Marco Livingstone, Margaret Drabble, Tim Barringer, Xavier Salomon, Stuart Comer, Martin Gayford
  • Vernon Ah Kee: Born in this Skin
    Vernon Ah Kee: Born in this Skin
    by Robert Leonard, Anthony Gardner, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Blair French, Glenn Barkley
  • Yayoi Kusama
    Yayoi Kusama
    by Midori Yamamura, Jo Applin, Yayoi Kusama
  • Henry Moore: From the Inside Out; Plasters, Carvings, Drawings
    Henry Moore: From the Inside Out; Plasters, Carvings, Drawings
    Prestel Publishing
  • Wall and Piece
    Wall and Piece
    by Banksy
  • Mark Rothko
    Mark Rothko
    by Mr. Jeffrey Weiss
  • Louise Bourgeois
    Louise Bourgeois
    by Robert Storr, Paulo Herkenhoff
  • Damien Hirst
    Damien Hirst
    by Ann Gallagher
Join the Big Picture

A blog that aims to spark thoughts and inspire by seeking out and sharing works of art

Historically, artists have always worked big, and nowadays those boundaries are being pushed to the limits.

Large-scale art, whether in the form of photos from the Hubble space telescope, sharks floating in tanks of formaldehyde, rooms full of dots, concrete sculptures cast from Victorian buildings or hand knitted blankets wrapped around trees, large-scale art is all around us. Join the Big Picture aims to spark thoughts and inspire by seeking out and sharing these works.

All content by Karla Thompson, an ex-pat Aussie living in East London. When not working on Join the Big Picture she is part of the backbone to the Leonhard Pfeifer brand.

Read an interview about Join the Big Picture here.


Karla Thompson
Creative Partner




Detail of Yarn Bombing UK

Entries in Hirst (2)


Damien Hirst - Hymn

Damien Hirst Hymn 1999-2005

Large painted bronze statue outside the Tate Modern, London


Damien Hirst

At Tate Modern until 9 September 2012

Ticket frenzy for Damien Hirst’s first major exhibition at the Tate Modern began early and as expected, the visitor numbers for the show have been high already.

I always love going to the Tate Modern – it is one of my favourite public spaces in London – especially on rainy days. We had tickets for 11am on a Monday, which was a good time for those still contemplating buying tickets.

From the book "Damien Hirst" pages 44-45

The first instillation I appreciated is the now infamous A Thousand Years 1990. You know the one, the cows head, the congealed blood, the maggots, the dead flies etc… I spoke to one of the gallery attendants about it and he said the head had already been changed after just two weeks. Apparently it had been pretty smelly and had seriously decomposed. So, if my calculations are correct, that means a new cows head roughly every two weeks… Hmm. The show runs for five months, so that means at least ten cow heads in cold storage somewhere within the Tate Modern underbelly. An interesting thought for those not too squeamish. Apparently the floor needed to be vigoriously scrubbed too.

Having lived in Australia for 30 years, flies do not bother me. They are a part of life there, and as a young child, I remember catching them with clear sticky tape against my bedroom window as they buzzed against the glass and then squashing them with my finger. Not a nice thought now, I admit, and on reflection, possibly cause for alarm for my parents... So, for me, it was interesting to watch people jump in absolute fear as flies buzzed on the inside of the installation.

From the book "Damien Hirst" pages 84-85

Moving on from there the butterfly pieces were an unexpected pleasure for me. I was familiar with the spots, the pharmacy series and the various animals and fish in boxes, but the beauty of the butterfly series was unforeseen - I had never thought of Hirst’s work as beautiful before.

Queuing to go into the live butterfly enclosure we waited in the room with the works In and Out of Love (Butterfly Paintings and Ashtray) 1991. The four large paintings are painted in glossy acrylic; bright orange, red, yellow and blue and scattered with dead butterflies. Some of the wings of the stuck butterflies were painted over, almost as if without care. Only 9 or so butterflies spread over canvases approximately 2m x 2m in size.

The next room called In and Out of Love (White paintings and Live Butterflies) 1991 was the best. It was a warm room full of flowers and light, with live butterflies being themselves; fluttering around, feasting on fruit or just resting quietly. Watching the faces of others enjoying the spectacle was interesting, as they were all full of smiles and amazement. Not one seemed repulsed by butterflies flying around. Again, four canvases were hung on the wall, approximately 2m x 2m but this time they were simply white and used as a safe space for the chrysalis (or pupa) of the butterflies. 20 or so chrysalis’ were suspended on the canvases and as the butterflies hatched, brown liquid escaped from the pupa, leaving a stain down the length of the canvas.

From the book "Damien Hirst" page 141

The three other ‘butterfly themed’ works were Doorways to the Kingdom of Heaven 2007; I am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds, 2006; and Sympathy in White Major – Absolution II 2006. All of which are spectacular. Mimicking stain glass windows the works were wonderful collages of individual butterfly wings glued and painted onto enormous canvases. I imagine a production line somewhere pulling the wings off thousands of dead butterflies - hopefully dead - though you can never be so sure with Mr Hirst. The first one mentioned spanning 9m of wall space. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed inside the gallery. Boo hoo.

It is an interesting observation that whilst flies are less beautiful, disgusting to some, and butterflies within the boundaries of a more beautiful insect, Hirst disposes of them both, on mass, for his art.  

Damien Hirst - Available online from Tate or Amazon